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Brussels, 17 January 2014
Statement by European Commission Spokeswoman on U.S. President Obama's remarks on the review of U.S. intelligence programmes
The European Commission welcomes President Obama's remarks and presidential directive on the review of U.S. intelligence programmes. We in particular welcome the President's willingness to begin to address wide-spread concerns related to the large-scale data collection by the NSA, concerns which are shared by many European citizens.
President Obama's remarks and action show that the legitimate concerns expressed by the EU have been listened to by our U.S. partner and that the intensive transatlantic dialogue on these issues has been genuine and is beginning to produce results.
As the European Commission stated on 27 November 2013 (IP/13/1166), trust in EU-U.S. data flows has been affected by revelations on these intelligence programmes and needs to be rebuilt. In recognising the need for action, President Obama has taken important steps towards rebuilding that trust.
We particularly welcome the willingness of President Obama to extend safeguards currently available to U.S. citizens as regards data collection for national security purposes to non U.S.-citizens. We will now explore the full implications of this commitment.
The President's remarks also open the way for discussion between the EU and the U.S. on a more efficient use of mutual legal assistance treaties and on the data protection norms that should apply to the use of big data.
The President's announcements represent the start of an important process to address EU concerns and we look forward to further action by the U.S. in this regard.
A number of questions still remain open and will need to be addressed in detail. We will therefore continue our dialogue with the U.S., along the lines set in the Commission's communication of 27 November 2013 on "Rebuilding Trust in EU-US Data Flows", which includes, in particular:
An improvement of the Safe Harbour scheme that would address security issues in a way that strengthens trust in transatlantic data transfers to the U.S. in the commercial sector.
The swift conclusion of an umbrella agreement on data protection in the area of law enforcement that will guarantee enforceable rights for EU citizens, including judicial redress for EU citizens not resident in the U.S..